Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Courtsey of Salvatore Vuono
I have been doing some things to try and help me be a better person, both physically and spiritually.  I have noticed that change is very difficult to make when you are used to life in a certain way and it seems to be working for you.  We have our daily routines and we are used to the way that things work for us and it makes it difficult for us to do substantial change even if it is better for us to do so.
For example, my son plays football.   During summer he was lifting weights and went to the school three days a week for a couple of hours.  Then it changed to 5 days a week 1 time a day and then 5 days a week 3 times a day.   Each change moved me out of my comfort zone from a planning and doing things perspective.  I had to adjust the things that I did and when I got certain things done; but, the change happened so quickly that I could not get into a rhythm.
It was then that I realized the importance of rhythm and habits to help us in life and the difficulties that lie in our path as we try to make changes.  As I sit and think about this, I looked to some things that can help with change and habits to make it easier, although not so easy that it still does not require work.
1.        It always helps to keep your eye on the reason for change.  In light of my son, I focused on the need for a father to try and help his son out in any manner possible.  Sure it is difficult for me and my schedule, but the real point of it is to be a father.  In my efforts to get healthier and grow spiritually, I focus on the importance being around for my wife and family and the need to want to grow and become more like Jesus.  Am I perfect, no.  Do I fall short sometimes, yes.  But I continue to try over and over again and keep my eye on the ball.

2.       Repetition is the key.  I am sure that you have heard about the 21 day rule.  It takes 21 days in order to make a habit.  But think about when you are changing something that you do not do every day.  For example, I started to walk every day for 15 minutes a day to try and become healthier.  I noticed that when I was doing this that it was easy to get into a rhythm and to add this to my routine every day.  At the same time, when I tried to bump that up to 30 minutes a day 3 times a week, it was a lot harder to do that the 15 minutes.  I thought that it was because of the increased exercises, but in reality, when I changed it to a total of 30 minutes every day, I was able to sustain the change more quickly and keep the momentum going.  We have to be aware that when we are doing something that is not a change that occurs daily, that it might be harder for us to sustain it than something that we do all the time.

3.       Find encouragement often.  I know that it is hard to do something when you do not have encouragement.  This can be hard if you do not have a good system built up.  For me that meant a three pronged attack.  First I set up internal ways to encourage myself. I celebrate success with a new book or something that helps me to feel good about my progress.  I also set up encouragement from my family.   I share my goals with family both my kids and my wife.  Nothing feels better than to know that you have their encouragement as you try to meet your goals.  Finally, I also set up a peer relationship to help me.  Once a week I meet with a friend of mine and we both review each other’s goals and also talk about how we are doing, the road blocks we encounter and the successes that we have had.
These things are some of the ways that I have been dealing with change and habits as I try and change myself.  These are not all the things I do, but they are some ways that I can move towards breaking through the walls that make it difficult to change.  What are some things that you do?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Working with IQTELL: A Great way to save 60 minutes a day.

I have been testing IQTELL for several weeks now and thought I would take some time midstream to provide an evaluation of the product.  So I want to share a little bit about the company, the product, the pros, the cons, and the wish list.  Let me preface this by saying this, I HAVE SAVED 85 MINUTES A DAY USING THIS PRODUCT.  Sorry about the yelling at you hear, but I need to make it clear that IQTELL works, at least for me.

IQTELL is a privately funded tech company based in New Jersey.  Their goal is to provide applications that help you store data, organize your data, connect with your date and do this in a way that is safe and secure.   Their web site calls it “Social Networking for Your Files.”  Their mission seems to be to make things easier to have time for the more important stuff. 

This product itself is a web based/cloud system.  It is a way to organize your e-mail accounts, contacts, web bookmarks, tasks, notes, and so forth.  The product has a dashboard that gives you difference applications to track documents and accounts and so forth.  It provides multiple frames in the dashboard so you can see tasks, notes and documents, bookmarks and so forth.

So now for the pros, one think I like is that when you open something it creates a tab.  So you can go between tabs and do things without having to close one item to get to another.  So I can have my e-mail open and documents and my blog ideas and task and I can tab between them to work more efficiently than opening only one at a time and closing them.  The menu bar on the right side of the dashboard has the feel of the menu tree in Outlook so it is easy for me to customize and make it my own.  It is in the cloud; therefore I have an immediate back up of all my items.  Since it is web based I can access if from any computer with the internet.  I am not been on a system that I could not get access to my account.  The search system is great.  You can search everything in your work space or just a particular folder.  This is really helpful in locating things without having to go and hunt for it.  It is also a good system to integrate the GTD or Getting Things Done platform by David Allen.  This is the basis of my organizational system and a must for any program to work with for me to use it. Another good thing about IQTELL is that they have a lot of training videos out there to help you in your effort to get used to the program and when you first get started there are lots of links in your dashboard to help you get on your way too.  I also have to commend the folks at IQTELL as they have been very responsible by e-mail and social media to my comments, questions and observation.  It really appears to me that they are working hard to make this a good experience for me.

Despite the time saved and things that I like, there are some cons to IQTELL.  The first cons is that I have right now are that it does not have a calendar.  Although it does indicate that it will be coming soon, for me have the calendar integrated in this is the most important thing for me in order to make the system work.  One of the things I like about Outlook is the ability to drag an e-mail over to calendar or into the task folder and be able to create a new task or calendar.  I cannot do that in IQTELL at this point.  The other thing that is difficult to deal with at this point is the lack of a mobile client.  While IQTEL has assured me that this is coming.  I have to supplement my IQTELL use with SpringPadit.com in order to have to do list that can travel with me.  It is too cumbersome for me to log into the website on my mobile phone and pull up list for the grocery store or other errands.  I will supplement this when they add the mobile apps.  Another thing that is difficult is the loading of documents.  With Evernote, I could drag and drop. I cannot do that in IQTELL and it is a little time consuming to update documents.

So I will wrap this post up with a small wish list.  Calendar please and as soon as possible.  Mobile app please, as soon as possible.  Give me the ability to drag and drop please.  I would like to drag and drop documents into the system, drag and drop e-mails into task and the calendar when it is available.  While the search works very well I am spoiled by Evernote where I can search text in all my documents.  Sometimes my searches in IQTELL do not always bring up all the documents with that term in them especially with PDFs.  A wish would be the search function would be integrated to allow me to search for terms in all documents.  Another wish would be to have a way to have a backup/desktop client for use when I do not have access to the internet.  I know that SpringPadit.com had this problem and they were able to rectify it through the use of Google Chrome and you have a saved version on your system.

As with any system, it only works if you adapt it to your personal system and preferences.  I am slowly adapting it to work with me and the systems that I have.  Overall I think that it can work and work well, I mean after all I have already saved 85 minutes a day using it and I have not even really tapped into the potential of what it could do for me. That is 85 more minutes a day I get to spend with my family, reading books with my son, doing puzzles with my twin girls and chasing my youngest son around the house.  And have some time for my wife.  So as I work through it, I will update you occasionally and I encourage you to consider it as you look for ways to stay organized.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dealing with Change

Courtesy of Jarvist Frost

I am getting ready to go through a major change process at church.  As I reflect on this, I realize that it is going to be difficult.  I think that most people resist change and things have been going well at church since the major split about 10 years ago.  So with this change comes a reflection on how to deal with it. As I think about this, I reflect on the way that Jesus instituted change in the Bible.  Jesus gives us the ultimate example of how to deal with change.  So here are some thoughts I have gathered about dealing with change as I look at Jesus as the example.

1.        Gather a group of key people around you and explain the change.  Jesus gathered some disciples and started to explain to them the change in the way that things were going to change.  No longer were the concerned with the law per se as much as it was taking care of the least of these and feeding the hungry and taking care of the sick.  We need to make sure that we have strong leadership in the change process, that the people who are going to help make decisions on how to deal with the change are prepared for the process and are doing so in the best interests of the church and the ministries that we have worked hard on.
2.       Deal with current realities and then what could be.  Jesus did his best to show the disciples the current reality of the situation.  There were people who needed care, who needed food, who needed physical and spiritual healing.  Then he talked about how taking care of these people and loving them as their neighbor would help to usher in the Kingdom of God.  Jesus continually talked about the current reality and what would be the new reality with the change.  While the current reality may seem nice at church, we have to recognize that there can be a newer and better reality and instead of letting people spend time thinking about what was, we need to help them to think about what could be.
3.       Jesus modeled the change.  Jesus not only taught the disciples about the way that they needed to change, he lived it out.  He took change by the horns and dealt with it himself.  He feed the hungry, healed the sick, point out the hypocrisy of the religious elite and did so even at his on detriment.  If we want to lead people through change we have to be the leaders who model the change as well and not stand back while others do it.
4.       Jesus always talked about the change in everything he did.  He explained to the disciples why he did things.  He told them how this fit into God’s plans and he kept drilling it into their minds that everything that they were doing had purpose even when the disciples did not feel confident about what was going on.  Jesus never let them doubt themselves or the changed.  Even then they doubted themselves.  We have to make sure that even when it seems like it is the darkest that we keep telling our folks throughout the change process the importance of change and what the future reality will be if we just persevere through the process.
At the same time we have to be careful of the potential risks with change.
1.        When confronted with change people sometimes leave never to be heard from again.  Jesus told the Rich Young Ruler what to do.  When confront with change, he left and we never hear from him again.  When we talk to people about change, there is always the fear that they will leave and not be heard from again.
2.       When change does happen we can revert to do what we have always done rather than accepting the change and being transformed by it.  Just look at the disciples.  Even after spending years with Jesus, watching the miracles that he did, once he was crucified and buried they went back to what they were used to doing, fishing.  Despite the training that Jesus had given them and all the work that he did with them to prepare them for change, they just did what they always did.  We have to realize that change means something is going to change and includes us.  We have to be open to the change and realize that it is going to make us different people, but that is not a bad thing.  We have to let it shape us and we have to become better for it.  We should not revert back to our old habits hoping it will be the same as it was before the change occurred.
3.       Finally change can come at a cost.  Change cost Jesus his life and the lives of many of the disciples and early church mothers and fathers.  While I do not think we will be put to death for the change we are going through, it might feel like a part of us is dying because of the change.  We are to accept that it will be difficult and it may cost us some things, but we can come through it and be better for it. 
Change is hard; we don’t deal with it well.  However, Jesus gives us some ways to deal with change.  If we embrace it and continue to pray for our church as we go through the change, we can find a way to come through it and continue on with doing the work that God has entrusted us to do on the Lord’s behalf.
What things do you do to help with change?  How would you help a church going through transition?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Relationships/How to be a Christian at work

Courtesy of Photo Express

I have noticed as I spend more time talking to people in the workplace who are Christians that they have a difficult time feeling like they can be who they are in all that they do. They feel weird trying to witness to people and feel like they should not be trying to convert people during work hours. I can understand their fear and apprehension. It can often be seen as a conflict of interest to do such things and it can make people feel uncomfortable. As I was thinking about this though, I realized that this is not how Jesus approached things. Jesus did not have some tract that he read nor did he feel compelled to share some testimony about when he was saved. Instead Jesus just engaged people as they were, where they were and in the context of their work. He did not say that if you do not accept me now you will burn in hell forever. He talked to people. He loved them no matter who they were. And Jesus provided the example of how to be a Christian in the midst of what he did which was teach. I think that sometimes we forget that Jesus was a Rabbi or teacher, that what he did first was teach people and his disciples and in the midst of teaching, he did things to save people not by some grand tract or story, but in the midst of his day by his actions. So what does this mean for us? I think as I reflect on this that there are a few take-a-ways that I have gleaned from Jesus' encounters with others.
1. When we are at work the way we act is more of a witness to people than the words or tracts that we say.
2. Being like Jesus means that we love and care for all of our coworkers regardless of their beliefs or views and we care for them in the context of their lives and not ours.
3. You can witness to people in the work that you do. Each interaction you have whether it is with coworkers or customers can show someone the truth of Jesus Christ in your life.
What are some things you do to live out your faith in the work that you do?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Courtesy of Photo Express
One of the things that I have noticed is that it is a lot easier for me to stay engaged with my youngest children.  I am not sure if it is because they do not care if I am busy or not and rush at me or if it is the way I feel revitalized when I am with them.  It paying attention to this, I have noticed that I do not give the same amount of attention to my wife and oldest son.  I notice with them I tend to multitask and that I do not give them my undivided attention.  So I am trying to be more aware of situations were I am not giving my full and undivided attention to my wife and oldest son.  Here are some of the things that I am trying to do to be a better listener and to pay attention to them more.
1.  Put down the phone.  My wife has had accused me of have my phone glued to my hand.  While I try and deny this, she is right.  I have a tendency to pay to much attention to my phone apps and not my wife.
2.  Mute the TV.  We are in the middle of baseball season and if the Braves are playing, I try to have the game on in the background.  This also causes me to look at the TV a lot and not pay attention to wife and son.
3.  Listen first, speak second.  This is not easy for me.  I guess you could say that I am a type A, ENTJ personality and it is hard for me to do this.  I try to, as best as I can, to listen (no I don't do it well all the time, but I am trying)
4.  Make eye contact.  I have a tendency to look around, walk away while talking to do something, or wonder. This can make conversation difficult.  So, I am trying to make eye contact.
5.  Ask for clarification.  It could just be me or it could be all teenagers, but my son talks in guttural sounds and grunts.  While he calls this a language, I don't necessarily translate it that way.  In the past, I would just act like I knew what it was, but now I ask for clarification.  I find that this is helpful and makes it clear that I truly understand what he is talking about.

These are just some of the things that I am doing.  It is not perfect, but it is an attempt to try and be a better father and husband.  What are some of the things you do to keep engaged with family.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


Photo Courtesy of KK+
Do you often feel overwhelmed at work, or even at home or elsewhere? I know that I used to, but now I am not so much “overwhelmed.” I attribute to this to a lot of things, but not the least of which has been the tying and trying and re-trying of a lot of different time management, life management, or whatever you want to call it management systems. The first thing that I have learned is that there is not one system that works for everyone. There are pieces of systems that when put together fit for the use of everyone, but at least in my experience, there is not one that does it all. I have been “dabbling” in the world of time management for the past 15 years. I have gone to FranklinCovey Classes, read numerous books, tried a variety of different paper planners and have even been working with cloud based and SmartPhone specific time management systems. For the longest time, I thought the FranklinCovey system would be the best one for me. I liked the way that it called you to think about your mission in life as well as goal planning. Generally the ABC123 model was okay, but it felt like something was missing for me. Then about 7 years ago I came across the works of David Allen and his book Getting Things Done and that changed a lot about the way that I look at the art of time/life management. There are a few take-a-ways that I want to give you that I learned from David Allen that helps me each and everyday to not feel overwhelmed and to eliminate all the stuff around me.

1. Have as few inboxes as you can, but as many as you need. An inbox is anything that collects stuff. It can be e-mails, text messages, mail, letter, fax, etc.

2. The Two Minute Rule. This is the best rule that I have ever learned and is responsible for ensuring that my e-mail box is at zero each and everyday. The rule is this. If something takes two minutes or less to do, then do it. It will take you more time to file it away, retrieve it, and do something with it then, than it would have if you had just done it now.

3. Find ways to compartmental things that need to be done in list that make sense. For example, create a list of all the calls that you need to make. Pull that list out when you have a phone and time to do it. Create of list of things that you need to do that requires a computer or even the web to do it. You will find that compartmentalizing things helps to get them done at the right time and place.

These are some of the things that have helped me get things done. What are some things that you do?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Spiritual Development with Monvee

I have to admit that I am a computer guy.  I like all things flashy and techy.   My wife makes fun of me by saying that my phone is glued to my hand.  At the same time I have been looking for a way to combine techy with spiritual development and I believe that I have found the solution in www.monvee.com.  Monvee helps you to understand first of all understand how you learn, then what you pathway to connection with God is and final your personality type.  It does this through a serious of questions and graph plots.  After you have done it, I can attest that it is very good at its intuitiveness about me based on the questions answered.  Once you complete this assessment then it helps you be creating a roadmap based on four areas to help you in your spiritual growth. 

  •  My Mind:  Resources for your mind based on books, podcasts, and videos.
  •  My Time:  Ways to spend your time to grow.
  •  My Relationships:  Small groups, accountability partners, mentors etc.
  •  My Experiences:  Serving in Church, Missions, Sharing your faith etc.

Once you complete this, then you are provided targeted resources for each area to help you grow.  When you have picked your items, it then creates a dashboard for you to keep track of your progress.  The dashboard also provides resources for with Bible passages, free monthly downloads, daily post and articles.  Monvee also gives you a print out that you can use for your targeted items.  I highly recommend this program for anyone who is looking for a way to develop spiritually.

What things help you to grow spiritually?